Does a Water Softener Remove Fluoride?

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How do I remove fluoride from my water supply? This is a question that keeps popping into the heads of many Americans.

Because although fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water, too much is considered unsafe for human consumption. It may cause damage to bones, teeth, and overall neurological development.

Now, before you spend your hard-earned money and precious time experimenting with how to remove excess fluoride, let us help you by clarifying what works and what doesn’t. And we will start with: water softeners.


Do Water Softeners Remove Fluoride?

No, water softeners do not remove fluoride. This is because they are designed to reduce two problematic, hardness-causing minerals namely calcium and magnesium.

Please keep in mind that water softeners are not essentially “water filters”. In fact, they are purifiers that deal with hard water issues, and that’s it.

How Does Water Softening Work?

How does water softening work? Well, it utilizes the principle of ion exchange to replace positively charged hard water ions with positively charged sodium (or potassium) ions.

Once the resin bed attracting the hardness ions is full, the system goes into regeneration. This is when all accumulated minerals are flushed down the drain and the resin bed is replenished with fresh sodium ions.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Still, it’s a complex procedure that involves multiple stages to keep your water pipes clean, your skin and hair healthy, and lime staining around your house under control.

salt-based water softener

What Do Water Softeners Remove?

If a water softener doesn’t do anything to reduce fluoride content in water, what does it remove?

Again, water softeners use ion exchange technology to remove almost all the hardness-causing minerals – calcium and magnesium – from the feed water.

Furthermore, water softeners can lower the concentration of:

  • Iron, manganese, and copper
  • Radium

With that said, water softeners aren’t to be confused with genuine water filters. These two are not interchangeable, and it’s likely that you need a separate system if your water is contaminated.

It’s not uncommon for Americans to install water softeners in combination with water filtration systems to provide a dual line of defense against all water-related issues.

What Water Filters Do Remove Fluoride?

There are two types of water filters or rather water filter media suited for removing fluoride. These are activated alumina and bone char.

Two other highly effective methods of fluoride water purification are distillation and reverse osmosis which we don’t want to withhold from you either.

Water Distillation

An affordable and worthwhile method to remove fluoride from water is distillation. Distillation mimics the Earth’s natural purification system to eliminate over 99% fluoride and hundreds of other contaminants.

In a nutshell, distilled water is the purest water that you can get. So, how does it work? The process turns water into vapor and then subsequently condenses it back to its liquid form. Since fluorine/fluoride does not evaporate as easily as water, it stays back in the boiling chamber along with all other harmful contaminants.

The catch? Distillation removes all essential minerals too. So, you might need to remineralize your water to gain maximum benefits.

Reverse Osmosis Water Purification

Reverse osmosis water purification can remove over 90% fluoride from tap water. The semi-permeable RO membrane acts as a physical barrier that rejects all contaminants over the size of 0.0001 microns.

Apart from fluoride, RO systems can remove a wide range of contaminants and are generally considered the best option for a highly contaminated water supply.

These water filtration systems are typically installed under the kitchen sink and treat your drinking and cooking water. In addition, there are whole house reverse osmosis systems available that are installed at the main water line of a home.

There are, however, a few problems with RO filters. You see, it’s neither eco-friendly nor very cheap. That’s because any reverse osmosis process produces wastewater. The standard is 3-4 gallons wasted for each gallon purified.

What’s worse is that RO water is entirely devoid of nutrients and tastes flat.

Under Sink Reverse Osmosis System

Activated Alumina Water Filter Media

Activated alumina is a highly porous and absorptive material that can remove a few toxic contaminants from water along with fluoride.

An efficient AA filter, under optimum conditions, can remove up to 95% fluoride from your water.

Activated alumina is relatively well-known for its use in water filtration applications. It serves as a cost-effective adsorbent, but there are a few limitations that affect its performance. For one, AA filters work best on slightly alkaline water. Similarly, the concentration of competing ions also affects fluoride removal performance.

Bone Char Carbon

Unlike granular activated carbon, bone char carbon is excellent at fluoride removal. Made using charred animal bones, the natural carbon media is a unique carbonaceous adsorbent that makes a solid fluoride water filter.

How Does Fluoride Get into Our Water?

Fluoride salts occur naturally on Earth. In fact, fluorine is the 13th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. From underground deposits like rocks, the element enters the soil and then washes away into our water supplies.

Some areas have naturally high levels of fluoride in their water bodies, while others have significantly less. This is precisely why 97% of the western European population, Japan, and many other first-world countries do not advocate fluoridating their public water supplies.

Speaking of, fluoridation is the other way that fluoride gets into our water. It’s the controlled adjustment of fluoride to public drinking water. The EPA and CDC-recommended level is 0.7 mg/L, which is considered enough to prevent tooth decay.

What’s surprising is that countries not practicing water fluoridation have also noted a rapid decline in the number of cavities, thanks to better dental hygiene practices.

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About the Author Maria Martino

Maria Martino is one of our part-time content creators. She owns a B.A. in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Chicago and enjoys writing about all walks of life. When she doesn’t write, Maria likes to portray people and support her local community.
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